Pehradaar Of People's Rights: Mamata Banerjee's New Role
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has dubbed herself the "pehradaar (guard)" of people's rights and said anyone trying to usurp them will have to contend with her. For the second time in recent weeks, Ms Banerjee ruled out the possibility of implementation of the contentious citizenship law, National Register of Citizens and its first step, the National Population Register, in Bengal.
"Don't worry. I am your pehradaar... as your pehradaar, if anyone comes to snatch your rights, they will have to do it over my dead body. Not before that. It is not going to be easy. Don't fear fake rumours, conspiracies," she said while speaking at a public meeting at Pathar Pratima in South 24 Parganas district.
"They will snatch your rights and we will sit and suck lollipops? That won't happen. Our movement will continue. The people will win a victory. Stay well and leave your worries to me. I will guard you day and night," she added.
The Bengal Chief Minister, one of the fiercest critics of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been among the first to oppose the contentious citizenship law, which which, in a first, makes religion the test of citizenship.
The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated neighbouring nations - Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan -- to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.
Last month, she held consecutive days of protests against it. She has also stopped the work on National Population Register amid opposition concerns that the NRC, read with CAA, would deprive Muslims of citizenship.
Several Chief Ministers, including Pinarayi Vijayan of Kerala, have refused to implement either law in their states. Mr Vijayan has also stopped work om NPR in his state.
Last month, the Union cabinet approved a proposal to update the NPR (National Population Register) that will be conducted nationwide except in Assam. The NPR is regarded as the first step towards the National Register of Citizens.
But amid the turmoil over the citizenship law, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there was no talk on NRC happening as of now. It was underscored by Union home Minister Amit Shah.